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Five St. Pete historic structures win Pinellas County tax breaks

Margie Manning

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1180 Central Ave., currently home to Bodega, was built in 1921 as an electrical service station.

A home once owned by the developer of the Vinoy Hotel and a house constructed by a noted builder are among the five structures that will get tax breaks from Pinellas County.

The Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously on June 8 to approve the ad valorem, or property tax, exemptions for each of the five recently renovated historic properties. The St. Petersburg City Council recommend the exemptions in April.

The tax exemptions apply only to the increase in market value resulting from improvements to the property and are effective from Jan. 1, 2021 to Dec. 31, 2030. The owners will still pay taxes on the pre-improvement value of the structures.

Here’s a look at each of the properties.

1180 Central Ave.

Officially known as the Smalley-Green Auto Building, the commercial building was constructed in 1921 by Bob Smalley and Tom Green and operated as a service station that specialized in automobile electrical equipment, according to a September 2020 city staff report for the Community Planning & Preservation Commission.

At the time, the area was a burgeoning automotive center, but by 1924, 4th Street was considered automobile row and the business relocated. The property at 1180 Central Avenue continued to be used as various automotive purposes – a showroom, service shop, auto glass work – until 1934 when Art Tex Paint Company moved in and stayed until the early 1950s. For the rest of the 20th century, the building operated as various stores and offices, such as a furniture store, gun shop, and as the Kennedy-Johnson headquarters in 1960. Throughout the years, the building has had few physical changes, retaining a high level of integrity, the staff report said.

The EDGE District property currently is owned by developer Blake Whitney Thompson and is home to Bodega, a popular Latin restaurant. It was designated as a local historic landmark in October 2020.

There’s been about $530,392 in qualifying rehab costs, including work to the roof, the exterior stucco and plaster and full replacement of the electrical and plumbing systems, among other things.

A side view of 1180 Central Ave. in a photo taken in 2020 by the City of St. Petersburg.

556 Beach Dr. NE

The Jones/Laughner House was constructed in 1909 for Dr. Louis and Sally Jones Florence Ridgely. Aymer Vinoy Laughner, developer of the Vinoy Hotel, purchased the property in 1919. The early Craftsman architectural styling is rare for St. Petersburg in its particular form, materials and locational significance in association with the Vinoy Hotel, city staff told the CPPC in February 2018.

The owners documented $387,840 in qualified improvements, including structural stabilization and rehabilitation of the main house and construction of a garage apartment that matches the character of the building.

556 Beach Dr. NE

956 39th Ave. N.

The single-family home is known as the Frank Broadfield House and was designed and built by Cade Allen, the builder and real estate agent who founded Allendale in the 1920s. It’s a blend of hollow tile construction, English Cottage-style architecture and Mediterranean Revival details, a February 2019 staff report to the CPPC said.

The report called the property “an incredibly intact example of Cade Allen development.” It was added as a local historic landmark in 2017.

The owners invested about $81,500 in improvements, including replacing the roof, repairing and restoring the hardwood floors and repairing water leaks in the basement.

956 39th Ave. N.

406 14th Ave. NE and 336 9th Ave. NE

Both are contributing properties to the North Shore Historic District listed in the National Register of Historic Places and are considered significant for their architecture and history. However, little specific information is available about the history of each of these single-family properties.

The land that makes up the North Shore Historic District, more commonly known as Old Northeast, was purchased by C. Perry Snell in 1904 and developed over a period of about 35 years, beginning in the 1910s with construction in the area’s lower section and spreading northward over time, a city report said.

A city report said the home at 406 14th Ave NE had $309,913 in qualifying rehab costs, among them a front porch rehab, fireplace restoration, window repairs, plumbing upgrades and bathroom remodels.

406 14th Ave. NE

The home at 336 9th Ave. NE had $59,844 in qualifying rehab costs, including foundation and structural repairs to the main house, structural repairs to the garage and flooring repair and replacement throughout the home.

336 9th Ave. NE

Since 1996, when the Pinellas County board began granting 10-year tax exemptions for repairs to historic properties, the county has approved exemptions for 76 applicants, a report to the county commission said.

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